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Education Online: Weighing The Pros and Cons

2019-04-19 03:26:47

Given that continued education is now essentially a requirement for professional success, many individuals who are in a mid-career stage are finding that they must enroll in a program that works around their family and work schedules. Many educational programs have traditionally required that the student leave her or his previous schedule behind to restructure life around the program’s requirements.

Variations of online education, either blended or fully online, are changing this previous requirement to upend your life in order to pursue further education. An array of certification programs, from those based in technological careers to those centered in public or private education, offer the mid-career individual new options. If you are an educator, you may consider pursuing another license area or a graduate higher degree through blended or fully online programs that allow you to keep your day job while working mornings, evenings, weekends, or whenever you current schedule allows you the time to complete work for the program. It is by no means easy to work and study - and possibly manage a family - at the same time. But at least doing so is now an option for those who are interested in further education and the opportunities it brings - but can’t afford to quit and be a traditional student again.

Online education in its different forms can be a very different experience from traditional educational education. If you were a traditional student and don’t have good memories, you may find that online education and training is a different beast. Here are a few pros I have noticed as I have studied online the last several years:

  1. You save commuting time by not having to drive to and park at a physical campus. That extra hour or more can mean a lot of work accomplished.

  2. You generally understand the details of your coursework and plan of studies clearly, as the site that supports your institution’s online coursework usually includes an electronic calendar, the syllabus, an electronic gradebook with due dates listed, your GPA, and so on. No more flying papers and losing notebooks.

  3. You can often replay lectures that have been recorded by the instructor, and sometimes technology is available to transcribe the lectures and discussions. This allows the distracted or tired or confused student to listen and/or read class material as many times as needed to understand an important point - without having to call or email the instructor.

  4. You can “attend class” even when you are mildly sick or you are home with a sick child. Just keep the computer out of vomit reach.

  5. You can accomplish work for your training or studies at times you might otherwise find to be a waste of time. Waiting for the doctor or mechanic? Read or write part of an assignment from your smartphone.

  6. You may be able to multi-task, chopping vegetables while listening to a lecture.

  7. You can read, transcribe, highlight, organize and save notes using certain technologies that cannot help you manage hard copies of class materials.

  8. You may meet people you share interests and experience with from across the city, state, country, or world.

  9. You may make new friends from far-away places in ways that working adults rarely have a chance to do.


On the other hand, if you loved your experience as a traditional student, you may miss some elements of that experience when you begin your online studies. Here are a few cons that I have noticed while pursuing online education myself over the last several years:

  1. You miss out on socializing with classmates, and might not have opportunities to network naturally or find a great study buddy.

  2. You might have a difficulty making yourself get to work without the pressure of a specific class day, time, and location. It can be hard to walk away from family activities to lock yourself in the office and work.

  3. You have to learn to be comfortable with meeting and working with an instructor or classmates using the latest technology, such as videoconferencing, chatting, shared documents, and such. There can be a steep learning curve at the beginning of a course of study for those who aren't familiar with the technology their institution uses.

  4. You may get tired of computer work, especially if your day job requires it, too. It can be hard on the eyes and wrists to be at a computer for hours and hours, day and night.

  5. You may prefer hard copies of course materials, and you may find you are spending a lot of money on printing.

  6. Each individual will have her or his own perceptions of the online experience. Whether the pros of an online educational experience outweigh the cons will depend completely on each person’s circumstances, hopes, needs, and preferences at their currents stage of life.


Author: Gabriela is an educator with 15 years experience teaching subjects at all ages from kindergarten to adult level.



Tags : Education, online education, certification, reviewnprep